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Art students need college counseling too

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Art students need college counseling too

Kaylyn Fors plays the Host in Merry Wives of Windsor

Kaylyn Fors plays the Host in Merry Wives of Windsor

Clare Carroll

Kaylyn Fors plays the Host in Merry Wives of Windsor

Clare Carroll

Clare Carroll

Kaylyn Fors plays the Host in Merry Wives of Windsor

Kaylyn Fors and Furqan Syed

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Mounds View prides itself on the selectiveness of the colleges to which its students are accepted. From early on, promising students are encouraged to aim high—with the goal often being highly ranked universities such as Stanford, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and more. Students applying to these schools are prepared for standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT, receive advice on individual schools from their deans, and are helped throughout the application process.

However, another oft-forgotten group of students applying to equally selective schools exists—aspiring musicians, dancers, and actors seeking admission to performing arts schools. These students, whose institutions of choice often have acceptance rates that rival those of the Ivy League, must struggle through complex applications with little-to-no support from Mounds View.

“I did most research and other steps of the process [of applying to art school] independently,” said Rebecca Nara, 2015 graduate. “I asked for help applying for reciprocity and [my dean] told me I didn’t need to apply. I did have to apply, a blunder that almost made me pay out-of-state tuition.”

While students are supported in the process of applying to selective academic universities, Mounds View doesn’t provide the same aid to students seeking entrance into art schools. For example, while students receive emails from Mounds View about various college events, equivalent workshops for art students often go unmentioned.

Nara expressed her regret at being unaware of Portfolio Day, a nationwide event for visual artists and designers to meet with representatives from arts colleges.

“People generally go to multiple sessions over the course of their high school careers, but I only attended one,” said Nara. “I wish I would have known about them sooner because I learned a lot.”

Art students say that Mounds View also makes it difficult to discover the possibilities available to pursue art after high school. In Nara’s case, she didn’t realize going to art school was a viable option until late in her high school career.

“While I was at Mounds View, it was very obvious that the arts were not valued as much as math and science,” she said. “I didn’t know until late junior year that I wanted to pursue art professionally, and I think it was largely due to visual arts not being considered a valid career path.”

This lack of support for students interested in pursuing an arts education is disastrous.  In fact, art schools often require more to their applications than other colleges do. Supplementary materials such as a portfolio of past artwork or a taped performance are often mandatory additions to the essays and general application.

“It’s not fair that music, art, and performing arts students don’t have the same opportunities, because [they] have ten times harder applications,” said Sabrina Batiz, 2015 graduate now studying fashion design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. “It’s not just writing essays… you have to submit your portfolio and your work and stuff that represents you as an artist, and you have to create these well-rounded performances or portfolio presentations that aren’t taught in school.” Batiz is just one of many students who struggled to put together her art school application without support from the school.

To make matters worse, many of the steps that Mounds View takes to help students prepare for college applications aren’t that helpful to art students. For example, Mounds View prepares students for the ACT by providing in-class practice sessions, after-school ACT tutoring, and a free test for all juniors. This doesn’t help students looking to apply to top performing arts schools such as The Juilliard School, which doesn’t require students to send their ACT score. Instead, opportunities to rehearse monologues or to put together audition tapes would be of more value to these students.

Although Mounds View is not a performing arts academy, it’s fair to expect that the school support art students more than it is right now. Simply having a directory of coaches or artists available for contact would immensely help art students. In addition, the school could implement a referral system for students to contact alumni who have been through the art school application process.

“Even if [they’re] a student who should be in the top schools, they might not be able to get there because they don’t have the proper resources that [Mounds View] should provide,” said Batiz. Exposure to relevant summer programs and internships could also assist art students in building a strong application.

It goes without saying that Mounds View wants to see every student succeed at the college of their dreams. For the most part, assistance is there for those who wish to attend traditional schools and programs. However, with a little more attention to the specific needs of arts students, Mounds View can create many more opportunities for them. As a result, Mounds View will soon be able to boast about the high caliber programs that their artists are attending.

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Art students need college counseling too